Orcas on the hunt

It's another sure sign of spring on Vancouver Island. Herring have returned and that means mid-island residents are getting a front row seat to watch nature's dance unfold right in front of them.

Herring bring other predators, including the apex predator in the Pacific Northwest.

A large pod of at least 20 orcas has been spotted off Campbell River, heading south for a meal on Tuesday.

"I think this is the largest gang we've seen come through this spring, yeah," said Nick Templeton of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions.

Templeton believes the whales are transients but they are likely not interested in the herring run, rather they are hunting the sea lions who are also following the herring.

"The transients are the mammal-hunting killer whales, so it seems like some of this group was down Denman Island about a week ago," he said. "Maybe they've come up and done a loop this way."

Templeton and other tour guides are getting inquiries from visitors anxious to see the action out on the sea, and say there have been increased orca and humpback whale viewings from land.

"We get many reports coming in from people that are just walking down, for example, along the seawalk and they just happen to see something out there," said Susan MacKay, founder of Wild Ocean Whale Society.

Walker said the main focus of the group is to educate the public about the fact that orcas live in our backyards, and to raise awareness.

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